Visit Bonifacio (Corsica, France)
Bonifacio is a lovely medieval town and the oldest town in Corsica. It sits on the cliffs of a limestone peninsula above a natural harbour on the site of a 9th century citadel. At the southern tip of Corsica and just 12km from the Italian island of Sardinia, Bonifacio and its harbour have an exclusive, sophisticated Italian feel.
A visit to Bonifacio falls in two distinct parts - the harbour and sea front area, and the historic old town with the citadel.
Harbour and port
There are actually three port areas in Bonifacio - the fishing port, the pleasure port, and the port where the boat trips along the coast, to the Lavezzi Islands and across to Sardinia leave from. (The port is the busiest Mediterranean port in France.)
The main harbour area is around the pleasure port, and very elegant with palm trees and numerous bars, shops and restaurants lining the quay.
Set high on the cliffs above the harbour, Bonifacio old town is a maze of narrow cobbled streets and medieval buildings, picturesque squares and small cafes. It is also very easy to explore - being on a narrow peninsula it is not easy to get lost...the centre of the town is based around the Place d'Armes.
Important religious monuments in Bonifacio include the 13th century Church of Saint-Dominique and the 12th century Church of Sainte-Marie-Majeure (the oldest building in Bonifacio.
The substantial fortified building that dominates part of the clifftop is the 16th century Etendard Fort and garden, and also has very impressive views.
There are various other notable sites to be seen in the town, including the 'Staircase of the King of Aragon' - a staircase cut into the stone to enable access to the sea from the old town.
There is also a newer construction called the Gouvernail, a tunnel carved through the rock during the Second World War and leading to a large rock platform with beautiful views to Sardinia and across Bonifacio harbour.
The stone 'arches' across the streets that you will often see overhead between the buildings were originally used to distribute water around the town.
See also the cemetery at the southern end of the town for more exceptional views.
Around Bonifacio - coast and beaches
The coast around the town is very picturesque, with several renowned Mediterranean beaches separated by cliffs, caves and dramatic coastal scenery, including the calanches of Fazzio, a protected site. Among the most popular beaches are the bays of Sant'Amanza and Rondinara and the beach at Petit Sperone.
The coastal scenery is best appreciated by taking a boat trip from the port or by following the coast path from Bonifacio. It is also from a boat that you will best appreciate the stunning location of the town, with the houses perched on top of the cliffs that plunge 70 metres to the sea below.
The Lavezzi Islands, a designated marine preserve, are just off Bonifacio and can also be visited by boat from here.
The town is a major centre for water based leisure activities including yachting, windsurfing and diving.
See also Bonifacio Corsica
Photos taken within 10 km
Address: Bonifacio, Sartène, Corse-du-Sud, Corsica, 20169 || GPS: latitude 41.388, longitude 9.1611
Map of Bonifacio & places nearby
Highlights close by
Porto Vecchio 25km
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Bonifacio, France
- Chapelle de Santa Reparata (Bonifacio) - religious monument
- Sartene - town of art and history (30km)
- Eglise San Giovanni Battista (Carbini) - religious monument (32km)
- Eglise de Santa Maria Assunta (Santa-Maria-Figaniella) - religious monument (37km)
The French version of this page is at Bonifacio (Francais)